General Assembly is back in session

By Jean Farmer-Butterfield
Posted 1/13/20

Legislators return to Raleigh today. Our top priorities should be to pass a meaningful teacher pay raise and expand Medicaid to close the health care coverage gap and create health care jobs. My goal …

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General Assembly is back in session

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Legislators return to Raleigh today. Our top priorities should be to pass a meaningful teacher pay raise and expand Medicaid to close the health care coverage gap and create health care jobs. My goal is to do whatever possible to make those two things happen.

When the General Assembly was last in session in mid-November, we passed a resolution limiting what topics we can cover in next week’s session. Here is what is eligible:

• Override votes on Governor Cooper’s vetoes.

• Bills addressing access to health care.

• Budget bills.

• Bills to fix laws or district lines found to be unconstitutional.

• Legislative and gubernatorial appointments.

• Conference reports.

Unfortunately, “conference reports” are controlled by a few legislative leaders and allow those leaders to put pretty much whatever content they want in a bill and then bring it up for a vote with no amendments allowed and no time for public input.

The bottom line is pretty much any topic is eligible to be considered this week, but what is considered is under the strict control of a few legislative leaders. We as legislators need to remember the top priorities of our state: allowing and enabling our citizens to be healthy and thriving. Giving our teachers and educators the raise they deserve and enabling thousands of people to access health care will do that. That’s why they are my priorities for this session!


A federal judge recently ordered the state of North Carolina to stop its implementation of the new photo ID law because of significant evidence that the new law was racially discriminatory. The state of North Carolina will appeal the judge’s ruling, but, for now, there is no requirement to show a photo ID in the upcoming March primary.

Voters approved an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution in 2018 to require in-person voters to show photo identification. Immediately after the 2018 election, but before newly elected legislators could take office, the General Assembly approved the law to implement the new photo ID requirement.

The new law allowed voters to use some photo IDs, but did not allow other photo IDs. For example, a federal ID could get you in the Pentagon but not a North Carolina voting booth. Governor Cooper vetoed the new law, but the veto was overridden by the state legislature.


A seminar on “Juvenile Injustice: Avoiding Pathways to Prison” is planned at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at Wilson Community College’s Frank L. Eagles Community Business Center, 902 Herring Ave. E.

The event focuses on the impact of incarceration on communities, families and children and features guest speakers Erika K. Wilson, associate professor of law, Thomas Willis Lambeth distinguished chair in public policy and director of clinical programs at the UNC School of Law, and Gen. J.R. Gorham, retired N.C. National Guard brigadier general and author of “Sharecropper’s Wisdom: Growing Today’s Leaders the Old-Fashioned Way.”

Community vendors include the Gentlemen’s Agreement, IMAGE, CLASS, The SPOT, Dee’s House and local law enforcement agencies. Admission is free and light refreshments will be provided.

For more information, contact Carol White at edchair2018@gmail.com.

Jean Farmer-Butterfield, D-Wilson, represents Wilson County in the N.C. House. This column is adapted from her weekly email newsletter to constituents.